The Yellowbar Angelfish (Pomacanthus maculosus)

Yellowbar Angelfish (Pomacanthus maculosus)
Yellowbar Angelfish (Pomacanthus maculosus), Red Sea
by B. N. Sullivan 

If you dive near tropical reefs in the Indian Ocean or the Red Sea, you may encounter the Yellowbar Angelfish (Pomacanthus maculosus).  Often you will see them nibbling on a sponge,  or pecking at corals and algae-covered rocks.  In our experience, they don't seem to be fearful of divers, often swimming right up to have a look at us.  They are known to be territorial, so perhaps they approach divers to judge if they are friend or foe.

The adult of this species, pictured above, grows to a rather large size (for an angelfish!) -- up to about 20 in (50 cm).  The bright yellow patch on their flanks makes them easy to recognize.  Legend has it that the splash of yellow depicts a map of Africa.  That may be a bit of a stretch, but it accounts for the fact that an alternate common name for this species is Map Angelfish.  In any case, the exact shape of the blotch is unique to each fish, rather like a fingerprint.

The individual pictured above was photographed in the Red Sea, near Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

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